Hundreds of Floridians left out of Vioxx deal

Lawyers in the case say the laws in other states give their clients more time to file suit.

Associated Press
Published January 30, 2008

NEW ORLEANS - Hundreds of Florida residents who claim the painkiller Vioxx caused their strokes or heart attacks were squeezed out of a federal court settlement and should be included, their lawyers say.

If the motion they filed in U.S. District Court succeeds, people in a half-dozen other states - which, like Florida, give residents more than three years to file personal injury lawsuits - might be added to the settlement.

But a lawyer for Vioxx manufacturer Merck & Co. and a spokesman for plaintiffs' lawyers in the $4.85-billion settlement reached Nov. 9 said the agreement should stand.

Russ Herman, spokesman for the plaintiffs' steering committee, said Tuesday that lawyers for the Florida residents waited too long to sue or ask for an extension.

"That train has left the station," he said.

At least 300 Florida residents had not filed suit when Merck and lawyers for an estimated 50,000 plaintiffs announced the settlement, lawyers Norwood "Woody" Wilner of Jacksonville and William Ogle of Daytona Beach said.

Under Florida law, they have until Sept. 30, 2008, to file suit - four years after Merck pulled Vioxx from the market.

North Dakota residents had six years, Missouri residents had five and Wyoming residents four. According to Findlaw.com, Maine residents also have six years to file lawsuits, and those in Nebraska and Utah have four.